Thousands of Muslims in Liberia yesterday celebrated the Eid al-Adha, one of the holiest holidays in the Muslim calendar, praying for peace in Liberia and the world and progress for their community.
At the D. Twe Memorial High School sports pitch in Monrovia, Alhaji Muhammad Sesay, conducted the service, leading thousands in the shout of Allahu Akbar (God is Great) which Sheik Ishmail Fofana, deputy chief Imam of Duala Eastern Community Mosque described as the ‘slogan of the day.’
He told the Daily Observer that the celebration derived from the patriarch Ibrahim, (known as Abraham in the Christian and Jewish traditions) who was commanded by Allah to sacrifice his adult son.
Sheik Fofana said Prophet Ibrahim obeyed and took Ishmael (or Ismail) to Mount Moriah and just as he was about to sacrifice him, an angel stopped him and gave him a ram to sacrifice instead and the event is remembered and celebrated as Eid al-Adha.
In addition, Sheik Fofana said prayers were also offered for peace for the nation and the world. He said after the prayers animals, including sheep, cows and others are slaughtered to share with family members and the rest of the community of Ummah as well as other Liberians.
The Islamic calendar for the celebration is based on the observations of the moon and the length of a particular month, which can vary between years. For this reason, predicted dates of Eid al-Adha may be corrected at the start of the month of Dhul Hijja, which is around 10 days before the start of the festival.
Despite the sun yesterday, hundreds of Muslim males gathered before the Imam Sesay, while the females gathered further away behind them; seated with their legs folded sideways, looking towards the direction of the preacher.
Mixed with Arabic recitations, the Muslims prayed to Allah to bless Liberia and the world, and offered peace and prosperity for their community.
While the Liberian celebration went on as planned and the Ummah enjoyed each other’s company during the celebration of what many said was one of the greatest acts of sacrifice in the world, elsewhere in the world many celebrants lost their lives.
A horrific stampede killed at least 717 pilgrims and injured hundreds more Thursday on the outskirts of the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the deadliest tragedy to strike the annual hajj pilgrimage in more than two decades.
At least 863 pilgrims were injured in the crush, said the Saudi civil defense directorate, which provided the death toll. The tragedy struck as Muslims around the world marked the start of the Eid al-Adha holiday.
The deaths occurred around 9 a.m. Thursday on the first day of Eid al-Adha. The accident took place at the intersection of two roads in Mina, causing many to fall and others to panic, according to Saudi Arabia’s civil defense directorate.
Saudi authorities reported the deaths on Twitter and said that two medical centers had been opened in Mina to treat the injured. More than 4,000 emergency workers were sent to the scene, and hundreds of people were taken to four hospitals.
It appeared to be the deadliest accident during the hajj since 1990, when 1,426 pilgrims perished in a stampede in a tunnel linking Mecca and Mina, which is about six miles to the east. The stampede on Thursday occurred less than two weeks after a large construction crane toppled and crashed into the Grand Mosque in Mecca, killing at least 111 people and injuring 394 others.
The accident on Thursday, witnesses reported on social media, occurred around the area where pilgrims go to perform a ritual — the Stoning of the Devil, a re-enactment of a story from the Quran involving the Prophet Abraham — that takes place during the hajj.
Mina provides temporary accommodation — with tens of thousands of air-conditioned tents — for many of the more than two million pilgrims, who make the hajj to walk around the Kaaba, which sits at the center of the Grand Mosque.